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Heartbroken son grieving loss of his parents taken from him in an instant in deadly crash on I-70

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TOPEKA, Kan. -- The Kansas Turnpike Authority has now identified all five of the people who died in the crash on I-70 in Bonner Springs on Tuesday. Karen Kennedy of Indiana and Teresa Butler of Illinois were in a GMC Terrain. Ricardo Mireles of Topeka was in a Ford Taurus. Sheldon and Virginia Cohen of Topeka were in a Buick LaCrosse.

Gerry Cohen was in Florida at Disney, "The Happiest Place On Earth," when he got the worst news of his life; his parents were killed in that fiery crash on I-70.

"It was very painful, I mean, disbelief," said Cohen of the devastating phone call from a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper. "It's not how you think you will hear your parents passed away. You don't think that they are going to pass away the same day, the same second."

Cohen says his parents met and fell in love while teaching at Washburn University in Topeka. Sheldon, a chemistry professor, Virginia, a biology professor. The couple lived just off of campus for over 50 years.

"They were a sweet, sweet couple, they would take walks together," said neighbor Leo Cangiani. "They would go hand-in-hand, they would slowly strut, stroll, go down to campus or quick little walks around  the block."

Sheldon Cohen was often seen gardening in his yard and spent much of his time at his greenhouse in Perry, Kansas where he grew thousands of orchids. Gerry describes his father as a man of good humor who always had a joke to tell. He remembers his mother's sharp wit and sharp mind.

The couple had three children and three grandchildren.

Sitting in his living room where he last saw his parents at a 4th of July party, it is difficult for the Cohen's youngest son to talk about his parents in the past-tense, hoping for some sort of miracle that they will walk through his door.

"I have really no proof other than someone on the phone telling me that they are passed away," said Cohen "Genie, (Cohen's girlfriend), said 'why don't you give them a call on the cell phone that you know won't answer?'"

The KTA report outlines the accident, which states the wreck was caused by the driver of a semi tractor-trailer owned by Indian Creek Express crashing into traffic that was slowed or stopped in the outside lane of I-70 just before a construction zone.

During a news conference Wednesday, Leavenworth County District Attorney Todd Thompson said accident investigators are looking at several factors, but concentrating on driver actions. No charges have been filed at this time.

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